MOOCs4Dev – Beyond the Hype to Best Practice

Guest post by CEO Chris Proulx, about the expert panel he’ll be moderating at LINGOs’ Global Learning Forum!

LINGOs logoOverhyped? Or a misunderstood innovation in learning?

Since their launch in 2012, massive open online courses (MOOCs) have generated lots of buzz, controversy, and investment. Much of the attention around MOOCs has been focused on their disruptive qualities – enormous scale, big data – against the landscape of higher education and other traditional educational models. I lived through that frothy discussion during my last couple of years as CEO at eCornell and have a few bruises to show for it.

As the debate around their role in learning continues, MOOCs and other higher-volume, higher-engagement online learning models have quietly been making inroads into private and social sector organizations. There, they’re being used to explore innovative solutions to complex problems, build broad-based skills for next generation workforces, develop leadership teams, and more.

At the LINGOs Global Learning Forum in October, we will be exploring MOOCs’ implications for learning and capacity building in the global development and humanitarian sectors. We’ve invited four experts who are leading the way in terms of innovation and application of MOOCs. Together, we’ll unpack several of the more vexing questions regarding what works and what doesn’t.

Probably the biggest knock on MOOCs has been low completion rates and mixed levels of learner engagement. But you will be surprised what you’ll hear from some of our panelists about what they are seeing in their metrics. Chris Pirie will talk about a MOOC at Microsoft that had an over 80% completion rate. Clint Korver from NovoEd and Nick Martin from Tech Change will share innovative approaches to technology and pedagogy that are driving social learner engagement in a range of courses:  How does the design of successful MOOCs differ from that of traditional courses?  Do we need high-charisma experts to lead them?  What role can facilitated post-course networking play?

Taking advantage of the theory of cognitive surplus, MOOCs are potentially powerful tools for developing the wisdom of crowds into truly co-created new solutions. Sheila Jagannathan from the World Bank has been leading the Bank’s effort to develop open MOOCs on complex challenges related to climate change, citizen engagement, and the evolving role of public-private partnerships.  How can we bring new ideas to our organizations for scaling up learning options for beneficiaries, donors, partners, and the engaged public?

The scale opportunities may be different between large and open public courses like the World Bank’s and smaller cohorts for internally-focused courses (aka the SPOC). So, what have we learned about the production and business models to make each model viable depending on the use case? There is a range of options available today for content development formats and delivery platforms, as the field has been expanded well beyond the better-known Coursera and EdX platforms. Microsoft, the World Bank, Stanford and others are leveraging different partners and platforms to deliver more courses and reach diverse audiences. Which will be the right choice for your organization?

In the Forum panel, you’ll get the information you’ll need to begin implementing your own MOOC at your organization: The panelists are prepared to share the inside story on their lessons learned as well as their aspirations for the future of this course format and how it can be applied in our sector.  Through LINGOs alone, we can reach over 200,000 employees of international NGOs and hundreds of thousands more at local partnering organizations. Let’s brainstorm on how we can build increased engagement and highly scalable courses from our collective expertise that will benefit our broadest base of stakeholders.

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Introducing the LINGOs Learning Collaborative

Guest post by LINGOs CEO Chris Proulx

Chris_ProulxEleven years ago, six international NGOs interested in improving their learning technologies and training for field staff began meeting informally, to co-invest in and learn from each other. From those early meetings LINGOs was born, and it has since evolved to become a learning and capacity-building community of over 80 international NGO “members.”

Now in its second decade, LINGOs continues to grow: In the past several years, we’ve developed our first sector-wide credential, PMD Pro, and partnered with other NGOs on deeper learning initiatives. Even so, in the eyes of many in the sector, LINGOs remains a “membership organization.”

Starting today, we are taking big steps towards expanding our community and the concept of what learning in NGOs (and beyond) can mean. I am pleased to announce that after a three-month search, we have selected Ross Coxon as our first Director of the Learning Collaborative!

First, a bit about Ross: While he has been with LINGOs for a year in our Project Ross_CoxonServices group, facilitating PMD Pro training and developing and enhancing our curricula, many of you may also know him from his nine years as the Head of Learning and Development for Islamic Relief. While at IR, Ross grew the L&D department into the highest-ranking internal department on staff surveys, co-authored an entirely new management development program grounded in the culture and values of IR, introduced LINGOs to IR (thanks!) and was active in the various L&D communities in the UK.

Ross stood out as the ideal candidate to lead our transition from “membership” to the “Learning Collaborative” based on his passion for learning, experience in the field, ideas and vision for a broader and more engaged community, and his overall tenacity and energy for results. Congratulations, Ross, and we’re excited to see all that you’ll do in this new role!

So, what’s behind the idea of the “Learning Collaborative”? For those of you who attended our Annual Member Meeting in Portland last year, you heard me discuss my concept of the “learning ecosystem.” Following that meeting, I spoke with members, field staff, CEOs, and learning providers about the future LINGOs learning ecosystem, and found that three key points emerged from our conversations:

  • It’s about learning; no matter where, how or by whom it is deployed. LINGOs got its start in technology, yet it’s clear that the distinction between e-learning and learning has blurred. Our focus needs to be on the broader spectrum of learning – while highlighting and providing solutions for the powerful role that technology can play. The sector has also recognized that learning is being created both inside and outside traditional L&D departments, at headquarters and in the field. As a result, LINGOs can and should work to meet the needs of this wider community of professionals engaged in learning and development. The decisions to launch the Global Learning Forum this year as an open event and to focus a Forum track on local capacity building are just a few of the ways that we’re bringing innovative ideas and new practitioners into the conversation.
Learning leaders from NGOs in Asia gathered in April at IUCN Bangkok with LINGOs CEO Chris Proulx and Project Services Director John Cropper.
Learning leaders from NGOs in Asia gathered in April at IUCN Bangkok with LINGOs CEO Chris Proulx and Project Services Director John Cropper.
  • Geography matters. When I joined LINGOs, 75% of our members were headquartered in the United States – a fact which did not reflect the geographic distribution of NGOs, or the breadth of innovative learning practice in the sector. So, we’ve committed to proactively expanding our reach and inviting a much broader range of development actors into our community: NGOs and non-NGOs, US-based organizations and global ones. As a result:
    • Two-thirds of our new members this year are based outside the US and the UK.
    • With Ross’ selection as Director of the Learning Collaborative, half of our leadership team is now based outside the US, and most on the team have significant field experience in the Global South – another step towards building a more global LINGOs. (We are currently in four countries and six time zones – not bad for a small team!)
Two-thirds of our new members this year are based outside the US or UK.
Two-thirds of our new members this year are based outside the US or UK.
  • The sector needs deeper community and collaboration. The desire for more frequent, richer, and more diverse ways to build community, share best practices, and co-create solutions is strong. Coming later this month, we will beta-launch the LINGOs Community Site, where you will find and create new solutions, how-tos, and best practices while informally connecting with the community. And at the Global Learning Forum, we are dedicating part of Day Two to designing a shared work agenda for 2016 – with the goal of collaborating to create tools that will benefit the entire sector.

As part of this transition, Marian Abernathy will be assuming a new role as Marian_Abernathyour Partner Engagement Manager (when she has finished planning and managing the Global Learning Forum)! For the first time ever, we will have a person dedicated to recruiting and managing our private sector partners and supporters, with a focus on finding new ways to maximize the value and benefit for our members. At the same time, she will have a little more free time to spend with her family, which is richly deserved after five years as the Director of Membership. Please congratulate Marian on her new role and join me in thanking her for leading our community with so much enthusiasm and energy.

Speaking of the Global Learning Forum:

  • Our session schedule is live!
  • We have the same number of people now registered that we had in Portland last year—with six weeks to go. If you are not yet registered, now is the time…and if you are already registered, invite a friend or colleague who is working on learning in our sector.
  • We have three partners this year who will be providing content, analysis and/or expert facilitation. Look forward to conversation and insight from Brandon Hall Group, the Learning and Performance Institute and the Bridgespan Group.
  • Our lead sponsor, Microsoft, will be showing off some cool technology for learning using the Office Suite at our evening reception (I got a sneak peek last week while in Seattle – you’ll want to see it)!
  • We will be announcing the first ever winner of the Eric Berg LEAP Award for innovation and risk taking in our field.
  • Thanks again to Heifer for hosting us at their fantastic campus. See you there!

You Asked For Accessible, Interactive, and Collaborative – Meet Philanthropy University!

Philanthropy University logo

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On July 16, NovoEd and LINGOs hosted a preview for LINGOs members of a nonprofit e-learning initiative, Philanthropy University. Missed the webinar? Read on for more information!

Social, accessible, workshop-style – there are no shortage of attributes to describe the future of NGO learning. Across the sector, however, one thing is certain: to truly leverage our resources and common goals, the future must be collaborative.

Enter Philanthropy University: a new initiative powered by NovoEd that offers online organizational learning geared specifically towards the learning needs of nonprofits. Philanthropy University is partnering with LINGOs to offer community learning opportunities through expert-taught courses. Fall 2015 courses include:

Each 5- to 8-week Philanthropy University course is free to attend, and participants have the option to receive a Statement of Accomplishment upon course completion. Discussion forums & workspaces allow learners to share content, team up on projects via video or message, and get feedback on ideas and assignments. Participants from LINGOs member organizations can easily find and team up with other LINGOs learners in their courses, and use the Philanthropy University platform as a springboard for ideas to improve the entire community.

Philanthropy University for LINGOs Learners

Here’s why these collaboration-oriented courses are a great opportunity for LINGOs learners:

  • LINGOs and Philanthropy University share a common mission: to provide world-class learning and tools to help nonprofit organizations make the most of their resources.
  • Shared knowledge is a powerful stepping stone for innovation: joint participation in Philanthropy University courses will enhance cooperation and learning among LINGOs members – and across the sector. These free courses also provide a great way for staff, volunteers, and stakeholders within an NGO to learn together, and leverage their learning for greater impact at an organizational level.
  • Accessible learning builds a better sector: Philanthropy University uses Amazon Web Services to adjust video resolution based on available bandwidth, providing accessible learning wherever users are. Built-in course reporting tools also help organizations gain insights into the interests and needs of their learners – and help the LINGOs community as a whole focus resource development where it’s needed most. To this end, for the pilot year Philanthropy University will provide LINGOs with aggregate member data, and organizations with high participation (to ensure data relevance) will be eligible for individual data reports.

Check out the website, share with your organization, and enroll now! Questions? Please contact Jen Hu at philanthropyuniversity@novoed.com.

We’re also excited to be partnering with Philanthropy University on other collaborative learning opportunities in the future, including a panel discussion on MOOCs and social learning at LINGOs’ Global Learning Forum in October. Stay tuned!

LINGOs Global Learning Forum 2015: Why Little Rock Rocks

Holly 4This October, Heifer International will host the LINGOs Global Learning Forum at the Heifer Global Village in Little Rock, AR. We asked our host to share a bit of information about Little Rock. Here’s what Holly Dunning, Heifer International’s Manager of Talent Development, had to say:

First things first: Arkansas is that diamond in the rough that you want to keep secret. But because I am proud of living here (and terrible at keeping secrets), here are some of my favorite things about the Little Rock area, just in time for the 2015 LINGOs Global Learning Forum:

1. The landscape is unforgettable, and much has been invested in creating some of the U.S.’s most beautiful biking paths near the city. One of my favorite rides takes me over the Arkansas River via the Big Dam Bridge, the nation’s longest specially-built bicycle and pedestrian bridge. The River Trail system here allows a rider to ride for hours and hours if their legs will allow it.

2. From the Heifer Village complex, you can walk downtown to Little Rock’s vibrant River Market district. If you prefer, the trolley will also easily get you downtown, and the driver provides a great historic tour of the sites and buildings as you pass them. The trolley will also take you to the Argenta district, just across the Arkansas River (which, by the way, is a stone’s throw from the Heifer headquarters).

Heifer International's headquarters in Little Rock, AR. Photo courtesy of Holly Dunning
Heifer International’s headquarters in Little Rock, AR. Photo courtesy of Holly Dunning

3. Another really cool thing that is close to Heifer is the Clinton Presidential Library.

4. For those of you who are history buffs, you may want to spend some time at the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site and learn about the role it played in the desegregation of public schools in the United States. The Historic Arkansas Museum and the Old State House Museum are two other great places to visit and learn about Arkansas. They are all close to Heifer International – the museums are within just a few blocks – and they are all my favorite price: free!

5. Food. If you haven’t tried southern fare before, Little Rock is the place to do it! My favorite all-around restaurant is a seafood joint called Flying Fish. A great dinner-and-show option is South on Main, and Natchez serves up local Southern.

And finally, if you’re giving yourself a few extra days in the area:

6. You may have spent your childhood impressing your friends with your ability to spell it, but have you ever seen it? I’m talking about the Mississippi River, which is two hours due east of Little Rock (in Memphis).

7. And if you can swing it, head north to check out the fall colors in the northwestern part of Arkansas. Have you ever been to Vermont in the fall? No? Well now you won’t have to wonder what it is like.  Fayetteville is a beautiful drive from Little Rock.  While you are there, visit the Chrystal Bridges Museum of American Art – it really is one of the finest in the nation.   Another great town to stop by if you’re taking a few extra days is Eureka Springs, which is a small art community nestled in the Ozark Mountains.  If camping and hiking is more your thing, Arkansas has some of the best.  Another popular spot in Arkansas is Hot Springs – the name says it all, and it’s only about an hour and a half south of Little Rock.

In sum, in addition to attending the LINGOs Global Learning Forum this year, I do hope you will add in an extra day (or three, or five) and visit other parts of Arkansas.  I am looking forward to seeing you all in October!

Holly Dunning

Manager of Talent Development,

Heifer International

The top 3 things the LINGOs community wanted the new CEO to know

Guest Post by LINGOs CEO Chris Proulx

Chris_Proulx

LINGOs members consistently want more community and networking opportunities. That is the most common message that I have heard from members of the LINGOs community during my first three months as CEO. Through a variety of formal and informal listening events with LINGOs members, I have heard a lot of what you value about LINGOs and also what you aspire it to become.  Now, I am able to summarize some of the key themes that have come from feedback exercises at the Portland Annual Meeting and the London Members Meetup, the 2015 Membership Renewal Survey and individual conversations with many of you.

Community and Networking

By far, the most valued component of your membership is your ability to network and share best practices with each other. So, naturally you want even more value from the community. First and foremost, you’d like additional opportunities to meet in-person, not just virtually, and not just at the LINGOs Annual Meeting. (Shameless plug: this year’s Annual Meeting is being hosted by Heifer in Little Rock, AR, USA on October 15 and 16—and, attendance for one participant is included in your 2015 dues!) You want smaller sessions where we can have more focused dialogue and more opportunities to build local relationships.

So, we are going to facilitate more regional LINGOs events in 2015:

  • London: I facilitated a UK/Europe members meeting at Plan on Jan 14—about 15 folks attended, networked and heard from Speexx, our new language learning partner.
  • Boston: a self-organized member meetup at HREA on Feb 5 with ideas and feedback sent to LINGOs staff.
  • Nairobi: I am organizing a LINGOs member meetup for members and key contacts in the region on Feb 24. There’s still time to sign up!
  • Orlando: Gus Curran and I will be meeting with members attending the Ecosystem and Learning Solutions  conference Mar 25-27.
  • More on the way: we are looking to host a DC area meeting and perhaps a Bangkok/SE Asia meeting and very likely will do another London meeting later in the year. If you want to host something in your area, let me know.

In addition, you are also interested in improving how we develop and share best practice deliverables around topics of interest. So, you want to not just talk the talk, but walk the walk. This is on our radar screen, and we have a couple of interested members willing to take the lead on a couple of topics. Stay tuned for more details.

Reach, Reach, Reach

I have also heard a lot about reaching your field staff, including more support for occasionally connected users, mobile content, and content in more languages.  As you all know, there are a number of complex and inter-related issues, but we share your commitment to deliver learning to the last mile. To start, thanks to the financial support of two members, Goal and Relief International, the LINGOs Last Mile Learning online courses for PMDPro, as well as the PMDPro guide, will be available in Arabic later this spring to complement their availability in English, Spanish, French, and Portuguese. Please reach out me and/or connect us with your country and regional staff to we can continue extend the reach of our PMDPro expertise to where you are working.

In addition, the new LINGOs Learning Platform will be mobile-ready, so that will be a big step forward, especially for mobile-ready courses that you are developing. However, many of our commercial content providers are not yet providing us with mobile-ready courses. So, we will need to work with our content providers to help prioritize this need.  Our Last Mile Learning courses provide us with more flexibility but there is also work to be done. If your organization is interested in supporting our effort to develop and deploy these modules in a mobile format, please let me know.

Ensuring that we reach the field with appropriate, accessible, and affordable learning is a value that is shared by the LINGOs team. Let’s continue the dialogue to help us prioritize the most important courses and benefits, and where needed, to identify the financial support to make it happen. LINGOs has a long history of deploying new solutions thanks to the shared financial support of several of its members that helps us to leverage the engagement of private sector partners.

Onboarding and Curation

The third big theme was how LINGOs could do a better job in making new member start-up more of a turnkey process and how, for all members, we could do a better job packaging and curating the benefits and courses. LINGOs has become a victim of its own success; there are so many benefits available, that it has become difficult to manage. As the newest member of the LINGOs team—I agree; it has been difficult for me to get my head around it, so I can appreciate your needs.

Tacking this is a big challenge, but I would like to highlight two items in the works. First, based on our lessons from the LLP training, all new LINGOs members will now be on-boarded to LINGOs in quarterly cohorts. This will provide two benefits: a more focused opportunity to work with others on how to best deploy LINGOs internally and an immediate community for new members upon joining for broader best practice sharing.

Second, we will be co-hosting a webinar on April 16 with David Kelly from the E-Learning Guild on the topic of Curation that will be followed by an in-depth workshop at the Annual Meeting in Little Rock in October. Let’s use this to jump start our collective efforts to curate the best of LINGOs and provide all of us in the community with new tools and techniques to help our organizations and learners be more effective and more focused in their professional development.

So, these are the big three topics. I also heard plenty more about blended learning, social learning, technical course content, management and leadership development, monitoring and evaluation, employee onboarding, online communities, LINGOs working groups, and more.  The team and I have ideas and potential projects around many of these topics as well and we will share more on some of these topics later in the year.

In closing, it has been exciting for me to discover this robust, generous, and committed community at LINGOs and one that I look forward to working with on a number of initiatives where we can clearly be “better together.” Thanks for your hospitality in welcoming me to LINGOs. I hope to see each of you in the coming months.

LINGOs Community meets up via 2015 meet ups

Posted by Marian Abernathy, LINGOs Membership Director

communityLINGOs is all about community and collaboration to ensure that individuals and organizations within the development, humanitarian and sustainability sectors have the right learning in the right place at the right time.

Our membership community, now about 80 international non-governmental organizations, strongly values the community and opportunity to support one another, gain ideas and share approaches amongst each other.

We’re focusing efforts to strengthen community with a series of LINGOs Meet Ups. Two have taken place so far: On January  1,  UK and Europe-based members met at Plan’s London Offices with CEO Chris Proulx and representatives from our partners ThinkBuzan and Speexx. In early February,  Boston area members met at HREA on a (the) day no snow was actively falling.

Upcoming events

February 24 – Nairobi based members are meeting at Action Aid. If your organization has a Learning Champion based in Nairobi, or you have Learning and Development staff there, please contact me (Marian(at)LINGOs.org) for more information. Space is limited, but we very much want to build and support our Nairobi-based learning community.

In March, LINGOs CEO Chris Proulx and Member Services Manager will be at the eLearning Guild’s Learning and Performance Ecosystem Conference in Orlando and are hosting a LINGOs Meet Up at a March 25 morning Buzz Session. We welcome LINGOs community members at the conference to join them there!

Stay tuned for upcoming LINGOs Meet Ups… or contact LINGOs if you’d like to host a member meet up.

Congratulations and Thanks to LINGOs 2014 Members of the Year!

Awards-webLast week, LINGOs celebrated a very special occasion. Not only did we host our largest member meeting at Mercy Corps in Portland, Oregon, with participants coming from almost every inhabited continent, but we celebrated our first ten years and our founder Eric Berg.

At our celebration event  we recognized two LINGOS community members that have consistently contributed in ways large and small to make the LINGOs membership community what it is.

LINGOs members range from small with about 20 staff members to very large – with 40,000 global staff members. We recognized two members from across our size spectrum for their consistent contributions over the years, and this year in particular.

Member of the Year – Smaller NGO
There is a small microfinance non-profit based in Charlestown, MA. When I say “small” I’m referring to staff size and budget — but is outsized in vision and strategy. Since joining in 2006, Accion has actively participated in the LINGOs membership community. Accion has always sent someone to the LINGOs meeting – listening, engaging, participating and sharing ideas, approaches and best practices.

Accion has modeled strategic use of learning resources made available through its membership in LINGOs – from creating and sharing early eLearning courses on project management to inspiring top notch eLearning developer Amanda Warner to contribute valuable creativity and design in the early Global Giveback years through the creation of courses that are shared with the entire community (click here for an overview of the 2011 Global Giveback); modeling use of multiple low-cost learning technologies in its learning circles program, serving on planning and advisory committees, to sharing its mentoring program strategy in LINGOs 2014 “Learning at Work Week” webinars. Please join us in congratulating Accion as a LINGOs 2014 Member of the Year.

Member of the Year – Larger NGO
A founding member of LINGOs, The Nature Conservancy has supported the community – hosting meetings small and large, contributing leadership and vision to committees and to our board of directors.

The Nature Conservancy has pushed LINGOs to think bigger and farther ahead to meet the needs and maintain engagement of our larger members with greater sophistication in learning and technology. Those at the recent Member Benefit Spotlight on Articulate rapid eLearning development tools, and at the LLP training workshop last week saw that level of expertise!

TNC has consistently provided behind the scenes support – financially seeded contribution so we were able to make a purchase of licenses for language training several years ago. When we asked members to contribute for translation this year – maybe $500 each, TNC asked “how much do you need?” When LINGOs’ Last Mile Learning Financial Management Path becomes available in a few weeks in French, please say “Merci” to The Nature Conservancy.

And, even though they “stole” our first paid staff person, we are enormously grateful to TNC for sharing its initial very positive experience, their expertise, strategy, lessons learned with deploying NetDimensions. So while they are quiet and don’t toot their own learning horn, we want to recognize The Nature Conservancy as a Member of the Year.

Stay tuned for another post in which we recognized individuals for their contributions over our first decade.